One of the books that has most inspired me over the years is Playing Big by Tara Mohr.
The message of the book is something that resonates with me personally and is consistent with what I’ve often witnessed in our sector — women with amazing talents, ideas, and dreams who don’t see their own brilliance.
Mohr’s call to arms is for women to play big. To find out inner confidence, to take bolder action and stop undermining ourselves. Recently, I thought about how applicable this is to women gaining substantial ground in the fundraising industry. Perhaps it’s exactly what it will take to for us all to get ahead.
In the book, Mohr unpacks a lot of the things that keep us “playing small.” Things like listening to our inner critic, letting fear take over, relying too much on praise and criticism, and hiding.
That last one felt especially applicable to me. I can often come up with at least a dozen reasons as to why I shouldn’t do something.
When I wanted to run innovative fundraising campaigns or just try something different, I would often hear my inner critic whisper, “Who are you to do something like that? You can’t possibly be experienced enough or smart enough to pull that off.” That’s how mean my self-talk was for years.
But then one day I wondered, when would I actually reach “enough?”
It was a constantly moving target that I would never reach if it was up to my inner critic. That was when I realized that I could end up waiting my whole life and never doing anything substantial or interesting. I could forever be paralyzed by my insecurity and self-doubt.
Something had to give. I had to start doing things and stop hiding.
So much of the personal development work that I’ve done since then has been able learning to manage my inner critic and find my confidence. It’s helped me ask for raises, run incredible fundraising campaigns and even start a business.
Experiencing this challenge first hand and seeing so many of my female colleagues grappling with it is exactly why articles like the one from AFP in March are so dangerous to women’s advancement in the fundraising industry. They suggest that we should keep playing small and make space for men.
As women in fundraising, we need a better community and network to propel us into the impact and leadership that we’re all destined for.
I believe in your brilliance, your ability to have an incredible impact in the world. You deserve more support and resources to realize your potential. This is our time to come together to transform ourselves, our careers and the fundraising industry.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Are there ways that you play small in your career? What holds you back?